Survey to gather vital data on green space workforce

The exact size and structure of the UK's green space workforce is to be determined for the first time, thanks to a survey being conducted by Lantra and CABE Space.

The two organisations hope to use the data to find out what skills are missing and show the Government just how much investment is needed in training to prevent a future skills crisis.

CABE Space director Sarah Gaventa, who announced the survey last week at the RHS-sponsored Green Skills conference in London, said: "There's a distinct lack of data for our sector. Other comparable industries are using data to help them but we do not have it.

"So we need to do something now and have things in place that are going to make an impact."

Figures from the first Green Skills conference in 2005 show that 40 per cent of gardeners could be retired in 20 years' time.

The amount and type of green space looked after by local authorities and contractors in the UK, as well as recruitment, productivity and staff turnover figures, will also be established in the survey - which will be conducted online throughout January and February next year.

Lantra industry partnership manager David Winn said: "We know local authorities are out there, looking after parks, but what we have not got is strong data with which to lobby Government.

"We need to know the sheer size of the green space (local authorities) maintain and how many people are using it so we can say to Government 'this is the size of the industry, this is what it's responsible for and why are you not giving us more money?'"

Gaventa revealed that local authorities' average annual training budget for green space staff is just £160 per person.

She said: "We want to see more superheroes in the green space sector but what can you do with £160 a year that's going to make a big impact?"

Data collected will also identify regional differences in the sector with a view to approaching regional development agencies for help.

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